Dozens of city ordinances in Texas would be eliminated, leaving taxpayers responsible for damage done by developers.
On June 6, Governor Greg Abbott announced that he would be calling the State Legislature back to the State Capitol for a Special Session starting on July 18. He proclaimed that one of the issues that will be discussed is pre-empting dozens of city ordinances to protect trees.
Most city ordinances set out rules so that developers must preserve mature trees that provide many benefits to city-dwellers. A few city ordinances also apply to homeowners.
Of course, trees save Texans money by providing shade for our homes and reducing our air conditioning bills. Trees also help recharge our groundwater and reduce the need for irrigation. Properties and communities with mature trees are generally more valuable and more livable. Retail stores with trees even do better business than stores without trees.
Less well known is the importance of trees in providing protection from stormwater run-off and flooding for neighbors and property owners who are downstream. Communities pay hundreds of millions of dollars for stormwater infrastructure. Preserving trees save taxpayer dollars. Storms are fierce in Texas and we need all the help we can get when it comes to protecting lives and property from flooding.
The Special Session only lasts 30 days, so there is no time to waste.
If Governor Abbott gets his way, in-state and out-of-state developers will be free to clear cut every tree, even giant heritage oaks, from their project sites. They might save a little money when they are building their projects but taxpayers will be stuck with the bill and our communities will suffer.